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Interview: Awk Wah

Experimental musician Awk Wah produces deathly sounds that’ll make hardened pop fans go belly-up

Beneath the shiny-happy surface of Singapore’s indie scene lurks a gang of experimental musicians whose raison d’être is to produce sounds that are as uncompromising as they are inscrutable. Take Awk Wah, for instance.

The solo project of percussionist Shark Fung drops doom-laden beats on a hypnotic – almost meditative – tapestry of electronic gurgles, abrasive acoustic textures and manic found sounds. AVA, Fung’s 2013 full-length, exemplifies his swerving sonic signature. It’s techno dredged through the murk of ambient. It’s Japanoise throbbing with the loose-limbed fury of a young Rashied Ali. It’s stuff that will rip your eardrums to shreds. And Fung is set to drop another album, YMR – here’s what he has to say about it.

1) The record is based on our neighbours: ‘This album started off based on the 32 ethnic groups of Sabah. But along the way, it sort of became something else.’

2)It features Fung’s vocals, distorted and mangled: ‘I’ve been wanting to learn another instrument, but I just can’t get it! It took me a long time to realise my voice is also an instrument.’

3)The beats remain: ‘Yes, I’m still doing beats. I performed some of Sabah’s traditional drumming on my drum kit.’

4)He doesn’t know how to categorise his music: ‘That’s a very difficult question. I think my music is an abstraction of many genres, including noise, doom techno, no wave, lo-fi and experimental.’

5)The juice works for him: ‘What was I influenced by? Definitely a bit of alcohol and constant practice on the drums. That’s quite meditative. Try it!’

See awkwah.bandcamp.com for more on Awk Wah's music.